Jetpacks, flying cars, oh my! The future is knocking on our door, and it’s about time we let it in. While we can’t really speak on the jetpacks and flying cars (it’s top secret!), we can talk about a couple of futuristic innovations that are rocking the socks off eCommerce: AR, or augmented reality, and VR, or virtual reality.
Whether you’re a business owner or an avid shopper, staying on top of trends is probably high up on your list of priorities, which is why we’re giving you the 411 on AR, VR, and how technological advancements can be positioned to maximize your success on and offscreen.
What Are AR and VR?
If these terms sound like Klingon to you, don’t worry. Chances are, as a ripened consumer in the 21st century, you’ve likely experienced AR or VR in some form or another — Pokémon Go and 3D movies, anyone? Yup, some of the biggest moments in pop culture were actually the early fruit of a technological revolution!
Getting down to the basics, AR and VR are two peas in a pod, their ultimate goal being to enhance or alter our perception of reality. The key difference is how they go about it — AR adds to reality, while VR replaces it completely. As such, they excel in different ways, even if their usage is sometimes perceived as interchangeable. AR, for example, is great for workforce training situations where employees still need a firm grasp on the real world, and VR can be used for simulations, virtual tours, and, yes, video games.
Of course, there are always exceptions, as was the case with Pokémon Go, which relied on augmented reality to woo millions of fans around the globe. Regardless, with the plethora of opportunities presented by both AR and VR, it’s easy to see how they’re poised to transform a number of industries, eCommerce included.
AR and VR: Benefits and Examples
For a large chunk of eCommerce business owners, AR and VR have little proximity to their day-to-day lives, but that might not be the case for much longer. As retail continues to move towards a highly digital landscape, it’ll be hard to escape the grasp of AR and VR.
So, what’s the big deal anyway? Well, AR and VR can help online businesses:
- Boost customer engagement
- Enhance brand and product awareness
- Increase conversion rates by making shopping easier and more convenient
- Stand out from the competition with unique value propositions
If you ask us, those are some pretty compelling reasons to switch over to the not-so-dark side! And, when it comes to implementation, small to mid-market businesses would do well to focus on things like branded social media filters as well as virtual try-on capabilities, also known as the “Try Before You Buy” model. Successful examples of the latter include IKEA’S Place app, which lets shoppers view how potential purchases would fit in with their existing setup, and L’Oréal’s ModiFace, which simulates beauty products like lipstick and hair dye.
AR and VR: Next Steps
Now that you’re up to light-year speed, you’re probably wondering how you can get the ball rolling for your own business. Alas, this is a bit of a tricky question to answer. While most online merchants would benefit from AR and VR technology, it’s not exactly accessible to everyone. In fact, according to a report from WBR Insights, 52% of senior retail executives said they were not prepared to support advanced technological features like AR, citing budget and a lack of internal resources as the leading roadblocks.
At the end of the day, we’re at the cusp of widespread innovation, so naturally there will be some growing pains along the way. The important thing is to stay cognizant of these coming changes and adapt to them as soon and as best as you can.
We’re thrilled to be a part of this exciting journey, whether that’s through providing top-of-the-line fulfillment services or as the harbinger of the latest and greatest developments in eCommerce… or both! 😉
Questions? Comments? Shoot us a line! We’re always happy to help.
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